Having owned this Fiat special edition, the endless hours spent in the freezing cold with a can of WD40 and dwindling reserves of patience, listening to the death throes of the starter motor while going resolutely nowhere, pay tribute to the fundamental incompatibility of the name with the reality of the ownership experience.
We’re talking about the ‘poor man’s Porsche’ here, not the modern car (although even that is hardly going to give the Nordschleife any sleepless nights). Instead, the quickest of the 1980s Rapids took about 15 seconds to accelerate from 0-60mph and ran out of interest at 95mph (although you’d have to be brave, with plenty of time on your hands, to attempt that). The only genuine way you could describe it as rapid was in comparison to a dumper truck.
Fiat 500 Diesel
Nothing wrong with this special edition baby Fiat itself, which gained a cool metallic green paint job, special alloy wheels, louvered metallic detailing, and – note this point carefully – several prominent ‘Diesel’ badges to celebrate its partnership with the Italian jeans manufacturer. Just don’t do what I did. It actually needs petrol to make it go.
The only thing even vaguely cool about the Austin Cambridge is that it’s slightly related to the A35 van, whose most famous celebrity owner was James Hunt. But what makes the Cambridge a particularly inappropriately named vehicle is the fact that it was actually produced in Oxford, from 1954 to 1971. With the fierce rivalry that exists between the two university towns, this is probably why they made it deliberately awful.